“Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” – creation account, as retold in Genesis 1:26-31
I tend to keep quiet about being an environmentalist. Mostly because speaking to it would mean admitting to the fact that I am deathly afraid and it would mean being vulnerable around people and letting a conversation get to a place that triggers me beyond belief. Because the truth, in its bleakest and most honest, is nothing makes me want to put a bullet to my skull more than thinking about what is going on with our environment right now. What we have done to it, what we have allowed to happen to it, and what generations before us had a hand in. I know I have always been the kind of person to encourage facing your fears and naming them to make them less scary. But today, I don’t want to name them because if you are anything like me, you know what things I’m talking about and the naming is the worst part. You are tired of hearing the names of the millions of things I’m talking about. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably anxious too. So I’ll be the first to say that today, I’m not going to write about being brave or naming our triggers. Today, I’m going to be afraid a little bit more. Maybe tomorrow I’ll be braver. But not today. And that’s okay.
But today I’ve also been thinking about this fear. I know that today I won’t overcome it, but I refuse to be overcome as well. So it requires some amount of strength and for me, that strength has always come in writing. I have always found that writing gives me courage and gives me a sense of control when everything is spiraling. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like enough. Sometimes it seems like all I have the power to do is write and writing isn’t solving problems just making me feel better about them. But I hope that this inspires you to act. (I hope to share more about the ways that I’ve been incorporating action into my life lately just to show I’m not being a hypocrite, but that’s another post for another day.) Today, I just want to silence to voice of fear inside of all of us and focus on the next 24 hours and the things we can do. As I’ve written before, my boyfriend once told me that we have to pick our battles, so we should pick the ones we can win. I hope this helps you find those battles.
When it comes to talking about the environment, I think we’ve done it all wrong and have made the mistake we as humans oftentimes make. We attempt to make fear the motivation that causes action. Yet I think historically, fear as a motivator rarely works. More times than not, when presented with fear, instead of combating the things that we fear and eliminating it, we would rather hide from those things or shut them out of our minds. I think this is one of the biggest reasons for the apathetic attitude we have had towards caring for our environment. To ignore the problem is way easier than talking about it or taking action against it. Talking about it means we need to confront the oftentimes frightening reality in front of us and that takes more courage than we think we have in us. But, as Jessica Jones says, “knowing its real means you gotta make a decision. One, keep denying it, or two, do something about it.” For too long we have denied the harm we have done our earth, and I think we need to do something about it.
But here’s the thing; I’m not going to try to scare you into action. I’m not going to show you statistics or graphs or gut wrenching photos because I don’t think that changes anything. I think that makes people hide away and continue to ignore the problem. For years it made me blacklist certain trigger words associated with those images and facts on twitter and enabled me to ignore these problems further. Plus, you’ve seen enough of those things on social media lately. If you’re like me, you might even have gone out of your way to search through the shithole of tragedy porn to find them just to torment yourself. (Yeah, 10/10 don’t recommend.) So enough of that nonsense. But I will tell you why you should give a shit about the environment and what you can realistically do to help.
I opened this post with the creation account as written in the Christian bible, because that creation story is personally what compels me to care and since the vast majority of my readers are of a Christian faith, I wanted to make this correlation. In my whole life, I have never heard a sermon on environmentalism. And it’s a damn shame. Because the bible is brimming with things to say about how we treat the world around us and I had no idea. I grew up thinking that this creation account, God giving us dominion over the Earth to be rulers of it, gave me a license to not care. I actually grew up my whole life hating animals and not caring about animal cruelty and used those verses to justify it. (Big yikes.) However, after much maturation I’ve realized its because of those verses that I need to care what happens to animals and the world around me. I know that I’m called to be a good steward of my resources and a good caretaker, and to think that doesn’t apply to plants and animals is just really poor biblical exegesis. I always think about Jesus stepping foot on Earth after everything she’s been through and looking at me and asking how I let this happen to her.
It physically pains me that Christians aren’t the ones on the forefront of the conservation and saving the planet campaigns because of what we profess to stand for. The fact that churches aren’t leading the way in showing communities and institutions how to promote ecological change is heartbreaking and needs to be dealt with. Amidst all the ways the church has failed our society, I think this is one of the biggest ways. (But if you’re not convinced by me, read “The Bible and Ecology” by the incredible Richard Bauckham.)
But to the non-religious readers I have, here’s why you should care. It’s simple. We all live here. We all want to thrive and be happy and do well. We can’t do that if we let large corporations shit all over Mother Earth and if we think its okay to not take care of the world around us. But again, not here to guilt trip anyone. Fear gets us nowhere. I think we need to learn to love our world and become motivated by that love. Our world is awesome. I mean, if you don’t think so, just Google image the Northern Lights or pictures of Ireland. Have you ever seen the ocean? A sunflower? A huge field of grass that seems to stretch on forever? A sunset? I fucking love the Earth. She makes me so soft and happy. I used to pretend I didn’t care because I thought that made me cool or interesting but turns out it just makes you boring. I want to take care of the Earth because I am such a softy for her. I love puppies and dolphins and the ocean and I love looking at the stars from the middle of nowhere and trying to find constellations and I love roses and bees and squirrels. I love plants! Lately I’ve been dreaming of a future home where I have a greenhouse and plants just covering everything inside my house and I think of starting a garden next summer with my siblings and growing herbs on my windowsill. It makes me so happy and I feel so full. If you don’t want that feeling, you’re missing out. Caring for the world around me makes me feel like I live here and belong here. I want to see my world thrive.
I know, everything is overwhelming and scary and it seems like the bad guys are winning. It always does. But what I have always tried to do when I start to feel overwhelmed with the weight of it all is to do what I can. I think that’s where we need to start. We need everyone to pitch in where they are in the physical space they take up. I hate that I’m never in the room where anything happens. Last week I was curled up in a ball thinking, “hey maybe I should drop out of school and fly to the Amazon with nothing but a suitcase of water bottles and my own spit and take out that fire myself!” (Obviously a plan with some minor flaws.) But no. I wasn’t born in the Amazon. I am here and there is work to be done here. There is work already being done by brilliant Indigenous people there, and I need to support that work and get plugged into the work that is already being done here too. Pick battles you can realistically join. Pick ones you can win.
I feel like this post was really short (for me at least.) but that’s because if I can’t convince you to care about the planet you live on then I really don’t know what to do. I feel like it’s pretty self explanatory stuff. So I mostly wanted to make a compilation of things you can do to help at the place you are right now. I’ve been researching for a while now and have a nice comprehensive list and wanted to share. Additionally, I want to make sure I’m held accountable and are walking the walk, so feel free to call me out and check up on me to ask what I’ve been doing lately for the causes I care about.
So without further ado, here is Faith Marie’s Saving The Planet Masterlist
Places to connect to
– Patagonia Action Works (Patagonia has a dating app style site where you can punch in your zip code and it’ll bring up grassroot organizations near you that are doing conservation work as well as events by you to attend! This is probably the most helpful and coolest tool I’ve found.)
– VolunteerMatch (Same idea as the one above, but you can also use it for a variety of other causes.)
– Charity Navigator (I love this website! They rate charities and organizations and have stats about where their money goes and how effective they are. They’re a good resource to use if you want to donate but are skeptical and want to make sure you’re using your money wisely.)
Things you can do
– Recycle (duh.)
– Donate to the Amazon Watch (This organization is fighting to protect the Amazon and the Indigenous people in the Amazon Basin as well as working to hold large corporations accountable for their impact on the environment.)
– Join the march for the Amazon on September 5th (Find a march near you here.)
– Buy a reusable coffee cup and/or waterbottle (Especially the stainless steal ones. And places like Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks will fill your coffee cup from home so you don’t contribute to waste. So you can still get your coffee fix.)
– Thrift shop. (Reduce! Consumerism is one of the biggest problems we have right now, so you can help by shopping secondhand and donating your old clothes for someone else to wear. Plus, it saves tons of money. It’s a win/win.)
– Donate your super old stuff to the H&M Garmet Collection. (H&M collects old textiles of any kind and recycles them into resold goods, new clothes, cleaning cloths, and a variety of other uses. I had no idea this was a thing until I stopped into the store recently and thought that was amazing.)
– Eat less meat (So many trees are lost and land lost to the meat industry. Plus they treat animals terribly. Take baby steps; try only eating meat on the weekends or see how long you can go without meat. For the really ambitious and the able; go vegetarian! Or hell, go big or go home; go vegan.)
– Use canvas bags instead of plastic bags
– Bike or use public transportation or walk
– Compost. (For more on how to do that, check out the United States Environmental Protection Agency site.)
– Type up your school notes instead of using paper. (I’m trying this for the first time this semester so lets see how this goes.)
– Join the Climate Strike from September 20-27th. (To find a walkout near you and get more information, check out the website here.)
– Make more things at home. (You’d be surprised how many things you can make at home honestly. Again, it saves money.)
– If you need to buy things, go for the green brands. (I like to use Seventh Generation for household stuff like toilet paper and cleaning supplies. I’ve been recently trying out Love Beauty + Planet and Dr. Bronner’s stuff for hygiene, and Imperfect Produce for, well, produce. There are also tons of others, but be conscious and try to go out of your way to support brands doing good, green work. Here is another list from the World Pursuit blog.)
– Join a community garden!
– Women, use a menstrual cup
– Get involved in local politics (This one might seem like a less direct impact, but many of the problems we face come from big corporations doing massive damage because a lack of accountability and not enough governmental regulations. We allow this to happen at every level of government, so start small and work your way up. Yeah, call your congressman and support green initiatives there, but also get involved in the work your city and town are doing.)
– Once your lightbulbs die out, switch to the environmental friendly ones
– Support your local farmers! Go to a farmers market (And come on, those are so cute.)
– Check out this amazing resource list from environmentalist, Katt Andryskova from My Vegan Experiment for more.
Things churches can do
– Stop handing out paper bulletins and switch to keeping info online (the old people can learn the Internet, okay?)
– Have recycling bins inside (the amount of churches I’ve attended without recycling bins is truly disturbing.)
– Stop using paper coffee cups (have members donate coffee mugs or use a small percentage of funds and go out and buy mugs from the local thrift store.)
– Start talking about caring for the environment from the pulpit (It’s not a political agenda, it’s an issue that is physical and spiritual and shouldn’t be avoided for fear of controversy.)
– Go out and do actual work as a congregation or small group. (When big groups of people come together, we can cover more ground. So go volunteer with a grassroots campaign as a small group, take the youth group out on a nature hike, do a neighborhood missions trip and clean up a local park, or start a green group that regularly meets to promote eco friendly change in the church.)
– Check out the Church of Englands amazing resource about how to be a greener church
– Make a church garden (plant things on the church property. The goods can also be used to help people in the congregation. Double win.)
– Make the switch to greener products
– Turn off the lights and unplug electronics when they aren’t in use
– Get involved in the local conservation and sustainability efforts and encourage church members to do the same
People and places to follow who are promoting + doing great work
– Kaitlin Curtice (Promoting great environmental work with a focus on Indigenous people’s activism.)
– Good News Network (To brighten your feed when you’re feeling down, this organization highlights all the great things happening in the world that oftentimes gets overshadowed.)
– Alexis Claire Fit and Fit Nika (Two health influencers I like who share a lot of tips about veganisn and environmentalism. Good for informational things, although they mostly talk about fitness.)
– Kat Armas (A lovely human I follow on the Internet who is full of wisdom about theology and our relationship to the Earth.)
– Leonardo DiCaprio (Keep up with all the work he’s doing in the media; he’s been on the frontlines of the fight for environmental justice and it’s pretty cool.)
*Takes a giant deep breath in*
And that is my exhaustive list (for now) to get you started. Please let me know of other resources you’ve found so I can edit and add to the list! What ways have you become more environmentally conscious? How are you making a difference in your community? Don’t let fear stop you from taking a stand and taking action. Let love and respect motivate you. Let’s get to work team.